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Pssst...I think the feminist parenting is working

The upside of having two working professional parents who believe in equally sharing household and parenting tasks is that the burden doesn't unfairly fall on my shoulders by default, like it does with so many women in so many families. We split up household tasks and share the important things (i.e. the parenting) and we've done so right from the beginning, yes even when I was breastfeeding. 

I realize how much he does when he is travelling for work (just as I'm sure he realizes how much I do, when I'm travelling for work). It isn't the solo parenting that I find particularly hard while he is away, it is doing all of my chores while also doing all of his chores, while also parenting and also working. For the most part, when he is away, I do the day-to-day things that need to be done (e.g. cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes, putting out the garbage on garbage day), but I leave the things that can wait until he gets back.

Last year, I wrote about a study on parents, household chores, and the impact on their children's attitudes and aspirations. I wasn't entirely convinced or overwhelmed by the results and I'll admit, I've been waiting to see what the impact of our choices will be on our children. Or whether it will even have an impact at all, considering that societal and peer influences could outweigh anything they see in our home.

But this week, as I've been solo parenting, my 10 year old has been voicing observations. I'm not entirely sure if they are innocent observations or developing snark.

Conversation One

Son: "Did someone sneak into our house while we were sleeping?"

Me: "No. The alarm was on. Why do you ask?"

Son: "Someone cleaned the bathroom. Daddy is away, but someone cleaned the bathroom."

Yes, I cleaned the bathroom. I cleaned the countertops, the sinks, the toilet, the floors and more. No, I didn't like it. No, I don't plan on making a habit of it. But the puke fest that visited our home over the weekend unfortunately required it.

Conversation Two

Son: "I hope Daddy is back from his work trip soon"

Me: "Why? Do you miss him?"

Son: "Well, yes. But also because someone needs to do the laundry soon. I don't have very many clean socks left."

Daddy does the laundry

Oh dear innocent and/or snarky child. I'm glad you're learning that cleaning toilets and doing the laundry are not a woman's work. Little do you know that you may soon be learning they are a tween boy's work.

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Reader Comments (16)

Innocence, snark, who cares? Your son is awesome! Can that victory also be claimed by feminist parenting??

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShannon Drury

When Ken went to Afghanistan, Reid asked in a bit of a panic, "Who will do the laundry?" That's definitely a Ken job. I felt like I had done something right. That affirmation is a sweet, sweet thing!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

My daughter became mostly responsible for her laundry at age 10. If I'm feeling generous, I help her out, but mostly, it's her job. She learned about cleaning bathrooms at overnight camp, but fortunately for her, we have a cleaning service that does most of the heavy lifting there.

Dinner, however, is my husband's job. When my son was 5, we asked him, in most homes, who do you think cooks the dinner? Daddies, of course. Mission accomplished. :)

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl at Busy Since Birth

Apparently obtaining pizza is a Daddy job that I am not able to do because I couldn't possibly know where the pizza store is. But don't worry, he is going to ask his Dad to draw me a map.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Go Green

By the way, post more often (please).

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie B

Shown a picture of two big whales and a little infant whale, my 5 yo son identified them as "A Daddy Whale, a Baby Whale ... and ... maybe that's an Uncle Whale"? My husband is a SAHP and we live with my brother (uncle to my kids). LOL! Apparently mothers don't even come into the picture?! Ouch, kid.

January 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterInder

Wow, I am SO glad to see this. For years I told everyone who would listen that just because I was the one cleaning the bathroom, it did not mean there is a toilet cleaning gene with an x chromosone attached.

To the best of our ability, their father and I raised our children to see both parents working in the home and without as normal, and when they grew up, our daughters, our only children, had no second thoughts about giving time to their careers, nor to the advantages of breastfeeding and the importance of providing healthy, whole foods to their families.

I suspect your son will grow up with the values you trust and encourage because they make sense to him, and they are not out of the ordinary--his ordinary.

Thank you for bringing him up this way. I am grateful you are here and writing about it.

January 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn Grace

Your last sentence slayed me. It also reminded me that I really should be more vigilant about giving my own children opportunities to help around the house.

February 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

Kids love to help and to feel they are contributing to the well-being of their family, even if they do complain in the moment. I look forward to seeing how this goes over time. You will be rewarded for your troubles when you discover what a fine man your adult son has become.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn Grace

I remember being a 10 year old girl and complaining that I didn't like the way the bathroom had been cleaned (or not) in a given week. Well, from that day forward, cleaning bathrooms was my job at home. My son will likely learn that lesson as soon as the peanut gallery can be trusted to use cleaning products (he's 2 now, but it'll come). If all else fails, I'll raise him to learn not to criticize the work others do unless you want to take it on yourself! ;)

February 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Ha! That's great.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterharriet

Its often said - 'Children are what you make them' Perhaps, kids learn soon from their parents especially mothers. Your kid is a remarkable learner and so are you. You can visit http://www.kidsfront.com/
to learn more about learning activities.

August 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterkajal

My mom raised my siblings & me as equals - boys & girls get to do the same chores, although she herself 'served' my father diligently (ie, he did absolutely no housework). That was about 3 decades ago. Nowadays, men are much, much more useful at home, fortunately for us. :D

October 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterZurainny Ismail

i enjoy burge

November 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterburger

A man should do his work, a woman should do hers. And if one wishes he or she can help his or her partner. That's the situation in our family and everyone is happy. Thanks for the interesting piece!

March 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterOlga Parker

I am thoroughly impressed with what you have done and are doing as described in this article. What you're doing matters. I am also curious how you and your spouse accommodate for the implicit bias each of us carries around gender (as we are products of our culture). I am learning a lot about it and find it extremely worthy to apply to parenting.

November 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Hohbach Scheetz

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